February 26, 2021

THE START OF HAYLAGE SEASON

Although no one can say what will happen with milk or grain prices, we still have a very important job to do – especially as we come into the 2020 crop season. Having a plan in place, regardless of whether or not we end up following it, can give us a sense of security as we live through tumultuous times.

Because it is already early June, we should have a good idea of what fields will be planted and what will remain hay. Have we had a chance to dig up a few alfalfa stands to see how they did with this past winter? Although mild, we did experience a few frosts this spring, and walking your fields now can give great insight as to whether these stands should remain alfalfa after the 2020 season.

Other than already having a plan in place for how many acres we’ll be harvesting of each crop, we should have a conversation with our Ag Partners consultant regarding our inoculant and plastic needs if we haven’t already. Over the past 5-6 years, we have done a great job eliminating products that do not bring value to our dairy because of tight financial times. However, we do not want to let the overall uncertainty in our current situation cause us to forget what we have learned.

I recently discussed potential cuts we could make with a producer. A few years ago, we noticed a huge decline in our alfalfa yields because we decided to try going without fertilizer, only limited manure, for financial reasons. Now, although money is tight again, we will not make that mistake. No one knows how long this downturn will last but limiting our future production capacity on our alfalfa fields could hurt us in the long run.  On the same token, decreasing overall shrink by using a high-quality inoculant on our forages allows us to produce better forages, and more of it. Saving money seems like a good option up front, however right now we need to focus most of our attention on becoming even more efficient than we already have been.

Deemed essential, agricultural employees have not seen the unemployment rates the rest of economy has. However, we all know how difficult it is to have enough people around once we start harvesting. How did last year go? Did animal health or production suffer during harvest season? Why? Consult your Ag Partners representative to discuss any shortfalls in manpower and how to overcome them. Sometimes the answers are simple, sometimes they are not. In order to make this season better than the last, we need to know where we can improve.

2020 started off on a good foot but look where we are now. Some say its due to poor planning, others disagree. Regardless of what our country’s leadership is doing, we are the leaders of our own operations. We need to use that power to look back on the past, to learn, and to look forward to the future to make things better. What are you doing to improve today?

Another great article posted by the Ag Partners Forage Club that relates to this article can be found here: https://agpartners.net/2020/05/26/FERTILIZING-TO-ACHIEVE-TONNAGE-AND-QUALITY/

Cam Freisinger

Dairy Nutritionist

camf@agpartners.net